Work

Austin Bergstrom International Airport (AUS)

Location

Austin, Texas, United States

Creating first impressions of the capital of the Lone Star State

The Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) accommodates a city that has experienced explosive growth rate since the start of the millennium with no slowdown in sight. The airport opened to the public in 1999 and the Page-co-designed Barbara Jordan Terminal saw approximately 6.6 million passengers in 2000. By 2014, Page had completed a terminal expansion focused on enhancing the passenger experience with expanded existing passenger processing capabilities for security screening, ticketing, customs, and baggage handling.

In 2019, more than 17 million passengers visited the airport. This was both an increase of 9.6% over the previous record year of 2018 and a 162% increase since it opened. Per the Federal Aviation Administration, AUS is poised to jump from near the top of the medium hub airport category into the large hub category. Page has since returned to work on the airport yet again to consult on the 2040 Master Plan for the “airport of the future”.

Services

  • Architecture
  • Building Sciences
  • Engineering
  • Strategies / Analytics
  • Interiors
  • Aviation
  • Civic / Government

As unique as its namesake

The Barbara Jordan Passenger Terminal reflects the city’s unique character, culture and heritage through its openness, its use of local materials and iconography and its relaxed, informal social character. Locally branded restaurants and live music venues inside the terminal also help to create a uniquely “Austin” experience.

© Tim Griffith

Walking the friendly grounds

The 680,000-square-foot, crescent-shaped terminal organization is simple and direct, providing easy orientation to the passenger and public. Walking distances from curbside to gates are minimized, while maximizing visibility of the large central marketplace adjacent to the gate areas. From this central space, the building opens out onto the apron, planes and runways under the Texas sky.

© Tim Griffith

Innovative Engineering

Passengers often notice – and comment on – the soaring aesthetic of the hall’s high roof. It is supported by an elegantly designed, “two-way” roof system with beams sized according to the moment diagram of forces that they support. These loads are carried by a perimeter ring of fin-shaped column elements around the perimeter, that double as vertical shading from low sun angles.

© Tim Griffith

Architecture and design as wayfinding

The hall serves as a circulation hub and an orientation device that draws passengers in from drop-off and ticketing areas and directs them out to gates. It expands in the center to accommodate 10 lanes of screening devices and tapers at either end to funnel traffic. Colored glass redirects passengers who may be disoriented after passing through security.

© Tim Griffith
© Page

Combining travel and leisure

Passengers also need amenities such as restaurants, which are a significant part of the airport experience, and also an important source of revenue. In 2017 ABIA passengers ate 61.5 tons of brisket alone, washing down at least some of that with 18,300 bottles of Shiner Bock.

© Tim Griffith

Additionally, according to Travel + Leisure Magazine which has consistently ranked AUS in its Top Ten Best Airports since 2013, airport amenities can influence travel decisions. The publication cites elements that are considered in its rankings such as passenger processing, restaurants and bars, shopping and design.

Minimizing environmental footprint

  • 50% reduction A chilled water storage unit cools the airport during peak hours, reducing electricity usage by up to 50%.
  • >250,000 kWh of energy savings / year A system of solar panels produces more than 250,000 kWh of energy savings per year. The airport satisfies its remaining electricity requirements through renewable sources provided by Austin’s Energy GreenChoice.
  • Occupant health and comfort The design prioritizes occupant health and comfort with locally-sourced stone and terrazzo, FSC-certified wood, and low or no-VOC carpet and paint. LED fixtures at individual workstations have full dimming capabilities.
  • No impervious cover The expansion added no impervious cover and only three parking spaces. It incorporates showers, locker rooms, and secure bike storage to encourage employees to bike to work.

Controlling the harsh Texas sun

Sustainable design concepts were employed throughout the terminal. Low energy insulating glass was used throughout the exterior envelope, and fritted glass was used at strategically determined areas to eliminate glare and to further lower heat gain into the facility. Passive energy shading devices were incorporated throughout the southern façade, such as three-foot deep vertical blades work with horizontal articulation and variable frit patterns to soften the sunlight and reduce heat gain.

© Joel P, Blok, Architectural Engineers Collaborative
© Page
© Joel P, Blok, Architectural Engineers Collaborative
© Joel P, Blok, Architectural Engineers Collaborative

Light and landscape

Two towers at the east end of the upstairs concourse house specialized TSA spaces. Topped with light boxes, the towers act as beacons and wayfinding devices in the large space.

© Tim Griffith

Clad in locally-sourced limestone panels, the towers incorporate a sophisticated mural depicting the topography of Austin and nearby Hill County, which were digitally-fabricated using a 5-axis mill.

  • Exploring the fluidity of time during travel Designed by noted international artist Mikyoung Kim, a mural of digital lenticular resin screens energizes those walls that do not incorporate glazing. Mounted well above eye level, the mural emphasizes and accentuates the unusually high ceilings in this lower level space. Layered images and lines representing the UTC (coordinated universal time).

Getting a handle on explosive growth

  • 756,701 SQUARE FOOTAGE OF TERMINAL
  • 684,199 BREAKFAST TACOS EATEN
  • 600 INTERNATIONAL PASSENGER PROCESSING / HOUR
  • 48 NON-STOP DESTINATIONS

“The response to the new spaces and operations has been overwhelmingly positive and has enhanced the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport Terminal Building with a design which will also influence the continued growth and additions to the airport. ”

Robert L. Mercado

Project Manager and Architect, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport

Awards Won

  • Society of American Registered Architects Merit Award
  • Design-Build Institute of America Merit Award, Aviation Category
  • Texas Society of Architects Design Award
  • Texas Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement
  • American Institute of Steel Construction National IDEAS² Award
  • Building Stone Institute Tucker Award
  • Travel & Leisure Best Domestic Airports
  • Fodor’s 10 Most High-Tech Airports in the US
  • Conde Nast Best Airports in America: Readers’ Choice Awards

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